Let Me Be Champagne Again

How can I feel

(within such a minor moment)

That somehow the lights within me

Were shut off

And the music turned down?

 

We go at such loud paces

Stomping about madly

And singing with our heads thrown back

That when there is a space of quiet

We simply don’t know what to do

Or say

Or even how to breathe.

 

I can only think that I am homesick

And that my life isn’t lining up as I mapped

And that I must make dinner, but what?

 

I feel that somehow I must take my soul

And shine it like I need to shine my silverware

Polish it back to perfection

So it gleams in the lamplight.

And once again, I will pop like champagne.

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The Foundation

Last sunday, we took London for his 1st winter hike.  It was cold & misty which is to be expected in the Cascade foothills of Washington but the sun wavered just so, peeking sporadically through the clouds, that it promised to be a beautiful day.  I packed London’s snacks, extra diapers, a camera or two since inevitably one of them will loose power the moment I attempt to take a photo; and hoped that he would stay awake long enough to see the waterfall.  

He did and as we scrambled down the trail, towards its base and felt the spray from the cascading water on our faces, I realized that that was London’s first waterfall.  It was the first time in his nine months of life that he had witnessed one of nature’s pristine moments, that he wouldn’t get another first waterfall, and that I had picked well, for it was beautiful.

I know that he will never remember that day, that all the memories we are making together right now, at this moment, will be lost  somewhere in his subconscious by the time he is ten.  Yet I suppose the memories really are for me anyway.  What we are doing, is what all good parents do, what my parents did with me, and that is building a foundation upon which his memories will grow; turning into something which both he and I will remember.  

About not shrugging

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An uncle of mine whose life was cut short due to that beast we are all well acquainted with, cancer, taught me a couple of things about living life. Not because we spent that much time together, but because we were probably the only two introverts in a whole family of musicians, highly intelligent doctors, men of law, teachers and somewhat well-connected politicians.

He was a surgeon, freemason and sweet father of two children who… didn’t turn out much like him. He used to sit for hours in silence, staring at nothing, paying attention to nothing and everything. Once he learned he had the same type of cancer his father had had, he didn’t rush to do all the things he wanted to do or asked his loved ones to cry him a river, he carried on with life like nothing had happened. He chose not to get treatment. He chose to live as if he had no idea he had cancer at all.

He chose to shrug.

When he visited us in São Paulo, I gave him a little bronze medal with the “Ôm” symbol. When he touched the medal, he smiled and paused for some time. He then looked up and said “listen to me little Alice, you must remember to never do something the same way you’ve done it before for the second, third time or even fourth time in a row.”

I was a bit confused. “What do you mean, uncle?”

“Well, when walking home from school, take a different path; when catching the bus to the theater, take a different line; when saying good morning to your neighbor, say it with different words.”

“Why is that?”

“Do what I didn’t do. I’m a man of habit. Let your brain create new connections, let your routine allow your brain to discover new ways of seeing things.”

He smiled. Sweetly, the way he always did. He was lovely and lovable and he never asked for attention. He lived at a slow pace and left early but didn’t forget to ask me to do just the opposite, as if he was meant to show me that not all that runs smooth on the outside is also running just as smooth on the inside.

When We Didn’t Have A Car

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When we didn’t have a car

We walked a lot (which goes without saying)

The air was crisp and cleaned our lungs and made us smile

And we went to the library often

So we read and filled our little hearts with wild adventures.

We stayed home and baked pies with the apples that fell into our yard

And stained our mouths purple from blackberries.

And of course, we felt really grateful when a friend invited us to the movies, the mall—hell, the grocery store—if it bought us a ride in their car.

 

When we didn’t have a car

We dreamed of road trips we would take

When we looked at the clouds we’d see Cadillacs and Buicks and Fords

And close our eyes and breathe in the sweet scent of exhaust

And leather interior.

 

When we didn’t have a car

I still felt so lucky with life

My mom loved us ferociously

We played. We created great things. Filled our young brains with knowledge.

We curled around the fire together and read and sang and slept

And were lucky to be (always) the closest family I have ever known.

We laughed. We dreamed. We loved madly.

 

When we didn’t have a car

It didn’t really matter

Because we had eachother.

US

My Irish Twin

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IMG_1041  My brother Drew has always been my opposite.  He’s loud, boisterous and at times, truly wild.  I am quiet & calm and my wildness comes in measured spurts, few and far between.  Born the day before I turned one, he drained my parents bank account and usurped my babyhood in one fell swoop.  He was breech and no amount of conjoling or pushing on the doctor’s part could turn him around, so Caesarean he was.  He was stubborn from the beginning I suppose, a fact which I think he is secretly proud of to this day.  As kids, we were a devilish pair of Aries wild ones~from scissor stabbings to kitchen floor cookouts, we challenged both our parents & our natural survival.  We grew and grew apart, as boys & girls will do, and his shy, timid nature was glossed over by his new class clown persona and my first born bravado was tucked away admist books and worldly dreams.

Now though, I see that we really have not changed, not permanently anyway.  Underneath his party boy swagger he is still the timid little brother that I first knew, my partner in crime, my built in playmate, my Irish twin.  And though he is now bigger than me and has been in his fair share of manly fights, I worry that he does not demand enough for himself, that he does not grab, by the fistfuls, that which he so richly deserves.  I often want to shake him for the choices he makes and chastize him for those that he doesn’t.  I see the romantic in him fall in love over & over again with all the wrong women and my heart aches for him in his loneliness.

Yet, he is an unbridled dreamer with an epic imagination, never ceasing to amaze me in his constant barrage of inventions and ideas.  He can make friends in an instant, a skill which I have long envied, and there isn’t much in this world he wouldn’t try just once.  He’s far more capable than most men I know and there’s not a lazy bone in his body.  And yet he settles far more than he should.

So maybe we must go back to the beginning of things, where he and I began, and pretend that I am once again his fearless leader and that he is my willing accomplice.  I will lead him out to the other side, through the ugly breakup and over the bump of self esteem, because I have been there and I know those waters well.  And then, I will  show him that yes, there is something better, there is something more, and that he should run towards it with all that he is.

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Against sobriety

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I have been writing sober pieces for too long now to be able to write about the kind of heavy existence I have been experimenting with.

I feel that, to use the letter “I” with some responsibility, one must first understand its presence. Its mass. One must also wrap one’s mind around the fact that one plus one makes two and that a mass of ones will never speak louder than the one that speaks privately to one’s self. Once this realization has been confirmed, one must ask: am I confident about my oneness?

Whenever I hope to go beyond the critical thinking that my sober writing demands of me, I feel dry and wonder if I ever had anything remotely poetic to share. Have I ever gone beyond the realm of immediate life and if not, is it even a terrible thing? Is being “beyond” cold analyses anything close to being full of blood? Or is it a sin to be so passionate about the quest, but not passionate enough about the undreamed of?

Washington

Ode to home

This green land that holds my heart so tightly

And tickles my ribcage with

Pine boughs

And makes me laugh

Like the wild beast

That I truly am.

 

Ode to this crisp air

That tastes like apples.

 

Ode to this family of mine

Giant with love

I hope that we always remember

How damn lucky we are

To have each other.

 

Ode to the mountains that hold us

And give us dreams of grandeur

That we will climb

And conquer.

 

There is nothing like

Coming home

And knowing with all certainty

That you are indeed,

Truly home.

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Dust on the Screen

  I read that he had been cremated and that the toxicology reports were damning.  His death was so definite, so absolute on paper.

   Yet here he was, singing & dancing across my TV screen.  He was so alive, so effervescent & tangible that I found it hard to believe he no longer existed.  This life force in front of me had been condensed down into a box of ashes-to be scattered in the winds or set somewhere cool and quiet, I didn’t know.  And though the part of him I knew was artificial, sent thru the wires in a collection of pixilated images, I felt the sadness of his loss nonetheless.  I can watch him over & over, thru rewind and fast forward, yet the nostalgia slowly drifts in, like dust on the screen.  For now I know that his face  is a testament to something and someone which no longer exists and never will again.

To penetrate pig-thick skin

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Why is it that having a hobby is healthy and being mildly obsessed with a band, a movie star or a literature character harmful?

Humans have a funny way to categorize everything and make sure that, whatever it is that is placed above or beneath previously traced lines, is crushed back to exist within limits or expelled forcefully through the use of real-world politics.
Yes, I used the word politics.
Because politics is exactly what one may find meticulously defined in the contents of a dictionary: power struggle, machinations, maneuvering and finally opportunism. Part of the reason why I hate politics so much is how aware I am of its influence and how incredibly sensible I am about its effect on people.
Politics push everybody to think like everybody and I have no patience regarding those individuals who won’t let me be an individual. To constantly feel pressure to make a good impression because, believe it or not, I might offend Joe and Jack over there when they finally find out my radical and poetic visions regarding my own self and my own preferences when it comes to whatever do not match theirs.
‘Whatever’ is too much of an issue to deal with because taboo is a much easier thing to fight over than, I don’t know, anything that is truly important. Because the idea of fighting, after all, is overrated and blown out of proportions, which leaves nothing to the imagination and everything to the shallow. To fight over something is a luxury item that is truly available for all.
The one thing we have in common: the capacity to argue over nothing.
When one argues my “opinion” (note how I placed opinion between quotation marks) offends them or outrages them or makes me less of the human I obviously am, I puke a little inside my mouth but before feeling sick, I feel fine.
I, in the end, know better while the pig that spits on my face knows only how to be… a pig. That’s true politics, to point the finger at somebody for having some ludicrous idea and mock him or her for expressing thoughts in a very inoffensive manner. To create the idea in others that a harmless someone is not worth any attention and to do so forcefully, through the use of a detrimental and abusive approach… now that is politics.
Wow. A post that started as a rebellious way of telling the world I do not like to hide what I feel that finished with a rant about real-world politics… We haven’t changed much since Columbus ‘came across’ the Americas and I guess evolution is nothing but a faint notion of idealized humanity that mankind is simply not able to wrap its collective mind around… and never will.

Wells, Nevada

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Idaho loomed into a more desolate Nevada. Dirt. Heat. Sage.  The highway betwixt the two cluttered by cars stopped for road construction. “Hours,” the woman at the mini mart told us, “those cars, been sittin’ here fer hours.” And then she kindly pointed us towards a back way—a scenic route—a dirt road quietly weaving around a slowly dying river. She had us at dirt road.

Thanking her graciously, Derek and I looped our little 4runner around and waved goodbye to all those other assholes stuck inside of their cars waiting for the sign to flip from ‘stop’ to ‘slow’. Haha!  We knew something that they didn’t know. Even Zelda (my overly furry, overly fat cat) had a smug look within her eyes lying luxuriously in the back seat.

The pavement ended just as we crossed a crumbling bridge—a dam really, with green growth pushing thru the old cement hungrily. Though I was in a desperate hurry to cross the bridge before it was washed away, my heart skipped at the beauty.  Earth was taking back what man had made. Here was green again. I loved it and I sent a silent thank you to the woman with the bony knuckles.

Dust swirled around us as we motored down the road; close to the water and then, very very far from the water—from any sign of life, really.  With each bend in the road, we were sure to be popped out once again near the river. And then we started hoping for the highway to reemerge. It was desolate. It was hot. And we were alone.

I’m not sure if it was hours or if it merely felt like hours. Our fuel tank had dipped dramatically and so had our spirits. The angel who sent us off onto a dirt road adventure became a sadistic bitch who sent us to our death.

And still we bumped down the road with no sign of an end.

SCRAPE! HISSSSSSSsssssss!

That’s how our day got even better. A flat tire. A flat tire in this God forsaken land. We were doomed. Zelda began panting in the back seat; I doused her in the last of our drinking water, forcing what little I could down her sweet furry face.

The 4runner was overly stuffed as we were returning from a two-month road trip to Alaska. Everything that we needed was buried.  The contents of the car were spilled out across the deserted roadway, the rack on the back was unloaded; the dirt bike lay on its side.  With the sun burning down upon us, an hour later we located the tire iron and for a moment we felt hopeful. We wouldn’t fry to death like little potatoes on the grill.

But long ago, when my tires were changed from 29s to 31s, my lug nuts were upgraded as well. So the tire iron didn’t work.

But we had Derek’s Craftsman set! Which broke.

But we had Derek’s hammer! Which in anger and frustration slammed his toes before finally loosening the lug nuts.

The tire was finally removed.

Tools spilled in the dirt; fears and frustrations stifled the hot air; Zelda panted a little heavier.

The spare was dropped from the under belly of the car (a spare that I had never considered in all my 8 years of owning the 4runner). It fell to the ground and we closed our eyes and crossed our fingers. We needed this tire to work. The sun was beginning to shrink.  The spare was essentially flat—over the years the air had quietly oozed out—but 15lbs of air would have to be enough. So it was put into place and we repacked the car.

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Each rock in the road, I was sure that crappy old spare would fly off and send us back into a frantic frenzy but somehow it carried us down that dirt road and finally, back to pavement.

I have never been so relieved to see a road sign claiming ‘NEXT SERVICES 20 MILES’. Grasping each other’s hands tightly, we smiled exhausted smiles and puttered down the highway. We were going to make it.

By the time we pulled into Wells, Nevada the sun had set and the town was asleep. I suggested a stay at Bella’s Hacienda –my poor, tired, naive eyes didn’t notice the build up of trucks out front. Derek steered us clear of the brothel and found us a room at a motel 6 –which was equally grimy—but we snuck Zelda in and rolled out our sleeping bag and slept deeply.

In the morning, as Les Schwab was gifting my car with four new tires, the man inside told us that earlier that year, a man and wife were stranded out on the same very dirt road. A snowstorm had swept thru, she died inside of the car and they found him later, frozen, down the road in a desperate attempt to reach pavement and wave down help.

It could have been us, cooked by the sun. Everything that could go wrong did. But we made it out alive and feel a little closer and a little bit more badass. And we check the spare tire prior to any dirt roads.